Cocaine-Related Health Emergencies in Europe : A Review of Sources of Information, Trends and Implications for Service Development.
Background: Cocaine-related health consequences are difficult to observe. Data on drug users in health-emergency settings may be a useful source of information on consequences that are not visible via other information sources. Methods: Thirty European countries submit an annual national report on the drug situation to the EMCDDA. All reports for the period 2007–2010 were analyzed, with particular attention given to auditing cocaine-related mentions. Analysis was also performed in order to identify sources and case definitions, assess coverage, audit cases and, where possible, to identify long-term trends. Results: Considerable heterogeneity existed between countries in their approach to recording drug-related emergencies, with only Spain and the Netherlands having established formal indicators. The highest annual numbers of cocaine-related episodes were reported by the UK (3,502), Spain (2,845) and the Netherlands (1,211). A considerable (2- to 3-fold) increase in the numbers of cocaine-related episodes has been reported since the end of the 1990s in these countries; these increases peaked in Spain and England around 2007/08. Conclusions: The analysis reported here suggests the need to develop more standardized approaches to monitoring drug-related emergencies. It points to the potential value of developing effective referral links between the emergency and specialized drug services working with cocaine users.